What Is a Revenue Officer? Responsibilities, Vs. Revenue Agent

What Is a Revenue Officer?

A revenue officer is an employee of a government or a public agency who collects delinquent taxes or fees. The job is performed on a case-by-case basis and generally involves directly contacting individuals or businesses that are in arrears on payments.

At the federal level, revenue officers are employed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in Canada. State and local tax departments also employ revenue officers. In some cases, the job title may be tax collector.

In the U.S., revenue officers are not revenue agents. The latter job title is held by auditors who review tax filings to identify any errors or discrepancies.

Key Takeaways

  • Revenue officers are responsible for collecting taxes or duties owed to a government or public agency.
  • In the U.S., revenue officers are tax collectors, while revenue agents are auditors.
  • Although they are government officials, revenue officers don't carry firearms and have no authority to arrest taxpayers.

Responsibilities of a Revenue Officer

Revenue officers are primarily involved in collecting debts owed to the agencies for which they work. Their roles in the U.S. and in Canada differ somewhat.

In Canada, excise tax revenue officers have audit, advisory, and legal roles.

In the U.S., the primary responsibility of revenue officers who work for the IRS is collecting delinquent and overdue tax returns.

An IRS revenue officer also:

  • conducts face-to-face interviews with taxpayers
  • obtains and analyzes financial information to ascertain a person's ability to pay the tax bill
  • designs payment plans to help those with tax arrears pay them over time
  • garnishes wages and seizes personal property to pay off delinquent taxes

A revenue officer with the IRS may also file for extensions on the statutes of limitations for tax collection and initiate administrative and judicial action.

This position is often confused with that of a revenue agent, who conducts audits of tax returns.

There have been reports of phone scammers claiming to be IRS revenue officers. The IRS has a consumer site with regular updates on the latest tax-related scams.

Special Considerations

While they are government employees, IRS revenue officers do not carry firearms or have the authority to arrest taxpayers.

One of their primary duties is to help create a payment plan for collecting any unpaid taxes. The officer may also seek an unannounced, in-person visit with the delinquent taxpayer. This is known as a field audit.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups together examiners, collectors, and revenue agents into one category in its Occupational Outlook Handbook.

These professionals earned an average annual salary of $56,780 per year in 2021. That translates to $27.30 per hour. The number of jobs in the field in 2021 totaled 55,300.

Job growth in this field is expected to decline by 7% by 2031.

Revenue Officers vs. Revenue Agents

While a revenue officer actually collects taxes, revenue agents handle tax audits. Revenue officers for tax agencies cover the more difficult tax cases. When the IRS isn't able to collect by means of letters, phone calls, tax levies, or garnishments, they send revenue officers. These officers have the authority to seize and sell assets to cover tax liabilities. They can also approve or reject payment plans.

The role of a revenue agent is to determine tax liability via an audit. The audit that agents carry out is also known as an examination. As such, these individuals work directly with taxpayers, their representatives, tax preparers, and tax lawyers.

IRS revenue officers carry two forms of official identification: a pocket commission and a standardized federal identity credential known as an HSPD-12 card.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Become a Revenue Officer?

A bachelor's degree is required, preferably with a concentration in mathematics, statistics, or economics.

How Much Do Revenue Officers Make?

These professionals earned an average annual salary of $56,780 per year in 2021. This is a job in public service, so substantial salary differences can be expected depending on the town, city, or state that is doing the hiring.

What Is a Chief Revenue Officer?

A chief revenue officer (CRO) is a senior executive in a corporation.

Some companies appoint a chief revenue officer to oversee all revenue-generating functions of the business. They oversee the strategy for revenue generation over the long term. The CRO reports to the chief financial officer (CFO).

This is a relatively new job title, born in Silicon Valley to maximize revenue opportunities created by digital products and services. It is particularly common in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry.

Article Sources
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  2. Internal Revenue Service. "Business & Tax Enforcement."

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts."

  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. "Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents - Summary."

  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Internal Revenue Agent GS-0512."

  6. Internal Revenue Service. "How To Know it’s Really the IRS Calling or Knocking on Your Door: Collection."

  7. ZipRecruiter. "Revenue Officer Salary."

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